By Sarah Pridgeon
Both floors of the Crook County Courthouse are fully accessible whatever your level of mobility, thanks to the now-operational elevator. The project was completed courtesy of the County Commissioners, a grant from Wyoming Business Council and the project management of Randy Gill, County Facilities & Maintenance Supervisor.
The elevator is intended to remove a significant architectural barrier that restricts access to the courthouse, making the building difficult to navigate for persons of limited mobility. While developing the grant, staff measured the distance travelled by someone conducting business on the main level of the courthouse to then utilize a service on the basement level, assuming they were unable to use the stairs.
The experiment, which was used to support the grant application, revealed that person would need to exit the front of the building, follow the ramp down, then turn and travel down the sidewalk to the handicapped entrance (a distance of 427 feet). Once inside, they would need to follow a series of ramps to the Community Room at a distance of 107 feet and an additional 100 feet should they wish to visit the Extension Office or museum.
“In addition, if there is a group utilizing the Community Room at the time the person needs to access the ramps, they have to travel through the room to get through their desired location,” stated the grant application. “Imagine walking through a funeral in order to go to a museum.”
The grant application was submitted to the Wyoming Business Council Investment Ready Communities Division in January 2011 and approved on May 26 to the amount of $244,800, with matching funds from the county of $27,200.
J. Scull Construction Services of Rapid City was selected for the project with a bid of $299,000. Existing county funds designated for a 10 percent contingency and other grant funds from the State that were approved to be used on the project brought the total expense to $311,185.53.
The project came in above its original estimation because costs had increased since the grant was developed and due to a small number of change orders related to unforeseen expenses for items discovered during construction. The architect’s expenses were also intended to be part of the overall cost but, when the elevator itself came in at $299,000, the county knew the budget would be over.
Fortunately, with regular monthly progress meetings, Gill was able to work with the architect and contractors to keep tight control on progress and identify potential issues.
“It was very exciting to work on a project of this size and importance for the courthouse,” says Gill. “I really appreciated everyone’s patience during construction and hope those who need the elevator will now be able to utilize the courthouse without any inconvenience.”